Tale of Coyote, The Deer, And The Wind

One time when Coyote was out hunting something to eat he met Deer. Deer asked Coyote where he was going, and Coyote told him that he was going out hunting. Deer asked Coyote how he killed his game, for he noticed that he carried no bow and arrows. “I can kill anything I can get my hands on,” said Coyote. “But how do you get close enough to get your hands on your game?” Deer asked. “Sometimes I run the game down, sometimes I catch them asleep.” Deer said: “I am considered good food; even the human beings are very fond of my flesh. If you can catch me I will let you kill me and eat me.” Deer started to run, and Coyote started after him, but soon lost sight of him and gave out. He went on home, but he could not help thinking of Deer’s offer, and wondering how he could catch him. He wandered about trying to find him asleep, but never did. One time, after Coyote had been out searching to find Deer asleep, he grew very tired and lay down in the tall grass to take a nap. When he awoke he heard some one singing near by. He was badly frightened and sat up straight and rubbed his eyes and peeped about. He saw no one, but as he sat still and listened again he heard his name mentioned in the song. He jumped up and ran as fast as he could; yet he always heard the voice singing in his ears, just as near as when he woke up. He ran as fast and far as he could; then he dropped down to die. While he was panting, he heard the voice again, and it was so near that he heard these words: “If Coyote ever kills a Deer he shall be as fleet as he, and I who am singing am going to give him power to catch a Deer. I am the Wind.” Coyote’s fear vanished, and he arose and barked at the Wind in a loud voice, to give thanks. His weariness left him and he started out to find Deer. He traveled all day, but could not find him. At night he came to a camp, where he stole a buffalo robe. He put the robe over him and then went on to look for Deer. Down by the river he thought he saw him. He went another way and slipped round a bend in the river until he came close to Deer. He reached out his hands to grab him and said, as he caught hold of him: “I have you; I thought you said I could not get you.” To his surprise he found that he did not have Deer, but the man whose robe he had stolen. The man took Coyote home with him and made him work for him and his sister, and treated him very cruelly, because he had stolen his robe. One time while the man was out hunting, Coyote went into the lodge and said to the sister in a loud, angry voice: “Pack up your clothes; I am going to take you to my home as prisoner, and you will have to work there as I have worked here. Your brother is killed and now you must come with me.” The girl was frightened and obeyed. They started toward Coyote’s home. Coyote went behind the girl with a long stick in his hand, and whenever she stopped or fell he hit her with the stick. The girl went on, though she was so tired and frightened that she could hardly move, and as she went she prayed that her brother was not dead, but would come and help her.

In the meantime the man returned home and found his sister and Coyote gone. He knew at once what had happened and started after them and soon caught up with them; for he had the power to travel as fast as the fleetest arrow, though Coyote did not know it. When he was almost up with them he shot an arrow in front of his sister. She saw it and knew that her brother was coming to help her; then she began to cry the more from joy. Coyote whipped her for crying and made her travel faster. The man saw Coyote strike his sister and heard the cruel words that he spoke to her. He went on a hill and then shot another arrow. Coyote looked up and saw him and became frightened even more than the girl had been. He dropped his stick and ran to the girl and begged her to let him carry her bundle of clothing, and begged her not to cry. The man came down from the hill and asked Coyote where he was going with his sister. Coyote said that the people had treated them so badly he had decided to take the girl to another village, where the people would be kind to her. He said that he was helping her along the way and had been kind to her. The brother of the girl did not believe Coyote, for he had seen his treatment of her. He told Coyote to take the bundle of clothes and put it on his back; then he told his sister to sit on the bundle. He put his bow-string through Coyote’s mouth and gave the ends to the girl. She sawed the strings back and forth and the man ran along by the side of Coyote, whipping him, and thus they returned to their home. This man was the Wind, who had become angry at Coyote for stealing his robe and trying to catch Deer with it, instead of waiting for him to give him power.

Caddo, Legends,

Dorsey, George A. Traditions of the Caddo. Washington: Carnegie Institution. 1905.

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